Mountain Laurel – Lori Benton

Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton
Published by Tyndale on September 1, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Historical
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five-stars

North Carolina, 1793Ian Cameron, a Boston cabinetmaker turned frontier trapper, has come to Mountain Laurel hoping to remake himself yet again--into his planter uncle's heir. No matter how uneasily the role of slave owner rests upon his shoulders. Then he meets Seona--beautiful, artistic, and enslaved to his kin.
Seona has a secret: she's been drawing for years, ever since that day she picked up a broken slate to sketch a portrait. When Ian catches her at it, he offers her opportunity to let her talent flourish, still secretly, in his cabinetmaking shop. Taking a frightening leap of faith, Seona puts her trust in Ian. A trust that leads to a deeper, more complicated bond.
As fascination with Seona turns to love, Ian can no longer be the man others have wished him to be. Though his own heart might prove just as untrustworthy in setting his course, he cannot simply walk away from those his kin enslaves. With more lives than his and Seona's in the balance, the path Ian chooses now will set the course for generations of Camerons to come.
A story of choice and consequence, of bondage and freedom, of faith and family.

This is my first experience with reading anything written by Lori Benton, and I am completely amazed and astounded at the raw talent that is this story.

I first picked up the book and began reading because I kept hearing rave reviews from other avid readers. This cover didn’t necessarily appeal to me, and left me a bit leery about reading the book, and kind of had me wondering if I’d really even like the story. But I’m so glad I didn’t let the cover stop me!

At first, as I began reading, things went kind of slowly, and I wasn’t immediately captivated by the story. But then, the longer I read, the more involved and enchanted I became. And as I neared the ending I found myself very much in love with this author’s writing style. I am determined to go back and find and read her other books in the very near future!
Now, on to the story… Mountain Laurel is a breathtaking story about relationships, portrayed within the heartbreaking backdrop of slavery. It is the tale of an unlikely, even forbidden, friendship across racial boundaries.

Ian is rather an unlikely hero. He’s made lots of mistakes in the past, and he’s not afraid to admit this and own up to them. He’s striving to be a better man. But, he continues to mess up (don’t we all?!) and suffers some consequences that are rather severe.
I just loved the characters. They came to life before my very eyes. Seona was an intriguing person. And I also liked Lily. But then a few others were not quite so likeable.

The relationships between the characters I found a bit surprising, but mostly quite intriguing. The author kept me guessing most of the book, and I had no idea what to expect. I think this is one reason I really enjoyed this story.
This is a story about slavery. Relationships between blacks and whites back in those days were extremely complicated, and not so good. I was made aware in a new way how terrible it really was in that time period.

It is especially haunting the way relationships are painted, especially the ones between the blacks and whites. Slaves and their masters. I am convinced this is a fairly accurate portrayal of the way things were in the south, back in those slave days, but it absolutely broke my heart to read about it. The way life was undervalued and cheapened. My eyes were opened in a big way to some of the aspects of slavery that I really had never even thought of.
This book showcases humanity, slavery, relationships, and so many other things in just an absolutely beautiful way.

five-stars